Awareness Part 2: Learning from Experience

Recently, I went for 1 or 2 quick training flights during my lunch break. I wanted to practice some ‘touch-and-gos’. The weather was calm, nothing special but perfect for training. The mountain offered different takeoffs for almost all wind directions and I know them all very well because it’s my home site.

The day ended with a distortion of my foot that will take 3-4 weeks to heal. Until then I will be grounded.

What happened? The first flight was perfect- I had a good, safe launch, only a nosy cow that felt attracted by my pink glider had to be chased away. Nearly perfect touch and go with a gentle landing.

In the landing I contemplated going back to work or to do another run… I thought, “the weather won’t be good the next days so better take the chance!” I decided to go again.

Out of the cablecar I walked down to the takeoff. Again there were the cows, more this time!…”Pfff, I have to chase them again” I thought. “Why not go a bit higher and take-off there…” I had launched at the higher takeoff in winter. I remembered it being a bit flat but okay, and some holes, filled with snow in winter but surely there now. I thought, “If it’s not working I can still run down with the glider above my head to the lower takeoff and lunch there.”

So I prepared my glider and estimated which route I would run to get enough speed and be able to navigate the holes and bumps in the ground. Sadly some small bushes blocked the best route.. second best would have to do! 

“Sometimes things are foggy in our heads, though the weather is perfect outside.”

I did like I planned: I inflated, I ran to gain speed, I got a half-meter off the ground and bumped my foot where the ground raised into a rolling bump. I stopped the launch and sat down immediately. I knew that this would be a problem… Normally I am really cautious while take off and landing as I have an old injury on the same foot I just bumped.

There was no one and nothing to blame but myself! In some sloppy mood not really focused, I half-heartedly chose to make another flight while feeling the inner pressure of “I must use the flyable weather.” I overestimated my abilities, as a result of my most recent successful training days. I hit the “wall” of progression, pushing too hard without awareness of my state in the moment.

At home, with ice on my ankle, I thought of the card and the blog I wrote and imagined if I could have avoided my small accident. The answer was YES!

Had I filled my card, it would have looked like this:

  • checklist-EN-complete-01Terrain – Take-off =Yellow. I wasn’t really sure if it was steep enough to take off safely. I tried to change this to a green with my Plan B – kite down with the glider – but this wasn’t really green because of the wholes in the terrain and the bushes.
  • Mental state/energy = Yellow. I felt I wasn’t really motivated to go again- the work that had to be done was in the back of my mind and I felt a bit tired.
  • Conditions and abilities match = Red. I am not able to run a slalom in uneven terrain with a non resilient, previously injured ankle.
  • Timeframe = Yellow. Again the little pressure of work that needs to be done – finish writing a blog on awareness – Part 1 ;).
  • Decisions Clear = Yellow. I wasn’t clear about choosing the takeoff- I somehow only wanted to avoid further walking down and chasing the cows away.
  • After reviewing everything against the card, it was obvious that I could have made the right decisions and chose the better takeoff – but at the same time I didn’t notice and realise the facts that pointed against my decisions in the moment. There were some small warnings triggering my gut instincts, but I didn’t take my time to really sort them out.

The card is in my gear now! I really wish to grant myself success, health and a lot of fun – I am going to take a minute for my preflight check ;).

I wish you all successful flying and I hope the little card can be a useful tool for you too.

Katrin Ganter
TIP Mental-Trainer

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